Bishop O’Dowd High point guard Asha Thomas has committed to the Cal women’s basketball team, she announced via Twitter.
Thomas, who averaged 14.6 points and 7.4 assists last season, also drew interest from Oregon, Washington and Seton Hall.
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For the second straight season, the Cal women’s basketball team was picked to finish second in the Pac-12 Conference, according to the annual coaches poll.
The Bears got three first-place votes to finish behind perennial champion Stanford. Oregon State was close behind in third place.
Cal has three starters back — including All-America candidates Brittany Boyd and Reshanda Gray — from a 22-10 that advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Former Cal guard Afure Jemerigbe signed a professional contract with Spanish League newcomer CB Al-Qazeres.
CB Al-Qazares will play in the Liga Femenina de Baloncesto, the top women’s basketball league in Spain, for the first time in team history for the 2014-15 season after earning promotion from the second tier of the Spanish women’s basketball pyramid last season.
Jemerigbe led the Golden Bears to a 22-10 record last season, averaging 12.1 points and 4.2 rebounds.
The Cal women’s basketball team announced its nonconference schedule on Wednesday, a challenging 11-game set that includes a rematch of the Bears’ 2013 Final Four game against Louisville.
The Cardinals, Elite Eight participants at 33-5 last season, will visit Haas Pavilion on Sunday, Dec. 21. Louisville beat Cal 64-57 in the Final Four at New Orleans two seasons ago.
“Each and every year, we want to bring one of the nation’s top teams into Haas Pavilion, where we have one of the most exciting college basketball atmospheres you can find,” Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “We are thrilled that Jeff Walz and Louisville will be coming to town, and I know our fans will be ready for a ‘Final 4 rematch.’
“Most importantly, it’s a game that will garner national attention and allow our players to play on the biggest stage.”
The Bears’ regular season opener is Sunday, November 16 at Stockton against Pacific. The home opener will be Tuesday, November 18 against Nevada.
The Cal women’s basketball team has signed Penina Davidson, a 6-foot-3 forward who plays for the New Zealand national team.
A native of Auckland — the same hometown as former Cal player Sean Marks — Davidson joins a Cal recruiting class that already was ranked among the top 20 in the nation.
“We are thrilled to add a person and player of Penina’s caliber in the late signing period,” Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “Nina comes from a ‘basketball family’, and that’s evident in her versatile game and high basketball intellect. She’s big and strong and will provide a solid post presence, but also has an array of skills facing the basket.”
Davidson is a member of the New Zealand women’s national team where she most recently competed at the 2013 FIBA Oceania Championships, scoring five points and pulling down eight rebounds for the Tall Ferns in the championship series against the Australia senior national team that was coming off a bronze medal finish at the London Olympics.
Davidson also competed for New Zealand at the 2012 Four Nations Challenge in China where she averaged 15 points and 9.2 rebounds per game in nine total games against China, the United States and Australia. She was named to the final all-tournament team, one of just two non-Americans selected.
Cal’s Gennifer Brandon was taken by the Chicago Sky with the 22nd pick of the WNBA draft on Monday night.
Brandon is the fourth Cal player to be drafted by the league, following Layshia Clarendon (2013, 9th pick), Ashley Walker (2009, 12th pick) and Alexis Gray-Lawson (2010, 30th pick).
The Golden Bears are the only Pac-12 program with a player drafted by the WNBA each of the past two seasons.
Brandon was a three-time All-Pac-12 selection, finishing her career as Cal’s all-time leading rebounder with 1219 career boards, a mark that ranks fifth in Pac-12 history.
She holds the Pac-12 single-game rebounding mark of 26 and finished her career as one of just four players in California history to record over 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds. Brandon averaged of 9.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game for her Cal career.
Outscored 41-23 in the second half, the Cal women (22-10) were eliminated from the NCAA tournament after a 75-56 loss to No. 2 seed Baylor (31-4) at Waco, Texas.
Afure Jemerigbe scored 17 points to lead the seventh-seeded Bears and Brittany Boyd had 15 points and seven assists.
All-America guard Odyssey Sims led Baylor with 27 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals.
The seventh-seeded Cal women (22-9) take the next, difficult step in the NCAA tournament when they face No. 2 Baylor (30-4) on Monday night at the Farrell Center in Waco, Texas.
The game tips off at 6 p.m. PT and will be aired on ESPN2.
Baylor, playing on its home floor, features explosive senior guard Odyssey Sims, who averages 28.5 points per game. She will pose a serious challenge to Cal junior guard and fellow Nancy Lieberman Award finalist Brittany Boyd.
Sims has posted 13 games of 30 points or more, including performances of 40, 44 and 48 points this season. She shoots 41 percent from the 3-point arc.
And Sims has help. Freshman forward Nina Davis averages 15.1 points and 9.0 rebounds and had 32 in the Bears’ 87-74 NCAA opening win over Western Kentucky.
Cal advanced by edging Fordham 64-63 on Saturday when Boyd hit a runner with 14.6 seconds left. Boyd averages 14.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.9 steals.
Brittany Boyd’s clutch runner with 14 seconds to play proved to be the game-winner, and Cal advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament with a 64-63 victory over Fordham at Waco, Texas, on Saturday.
The seventh-seeded Bears (22-9) take on No. 2 seed and host Baylor (30-4) on Monday.
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The Cal women, seeded No. 7 in the Notre Dame regional of the NCAA tournament, take on Fordham in their opener Saturday at Waco, Texas.
Junior point guard Brittany Boyd said the Bears (21-9) are ready for the challenge ahead.
“A lot of people got more confident,” Boyd said. “We’re still learning, but I think since the beginning of the season we’ve made a humongous leap.”
The game tips off at 1 p.m. on ESPN2.
Click here to read staff writer Stephanie Hammon’s full story.